Skip to main content

Full text of "Anointed Quorum in Nauvoo 1842 to 1845"

See other formats

The Anointed Quorum in 
Nauvoo, 1842-45 

Devery S. Anderson 

On 4 MAY 1842, Joseph Smith and nine other men assembled in 
the room above his red brick store in Nauvoo and, with his 
brother, Hyrum, administered to them the endowment ceremony 
that would later be reserved for the temple, slowly rising in gleam- 
ing limestone on the bluff above them. They were James Adams, 
Heber C. Kimball, William Law, William Marks, George Miller, 
Willard Richards, Newel K. Whitney, and Brigham Young. The 
next day, these eight would bestow the same washings, anointings, 
and endowment upon Joseph and Hyrum. 

According to Glen M. Leonard, the instructions and covenants 

[set] forth a pattern or figurative model for life. The teachings began 
with a recital of the creation of the earth and its preparation to host 
life. The story carried the familiar ring of the Genesis account, echoed 
as well in Joseph Smith's revealed book of Moses and book of 
Abraham. The disobedience and expulsion of Adam and Eve from 

DEVERY S. ANDERSON {}, a graduate in history at the 
University of Utah, is the author of the four-part "History of Dialogue," 
published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, and is writing a 
biography of Willard Richards. This essay is based on the introduction to 
"Meetings of Joseph Smith's Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845: A Documentary 
History (working title), edited by Devery S. Anderson and Gary James 
Bergera, (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, forthcoming in 2004). Copyright 
by the Smith-Pettit Foundation. 


The Journal of Mormon History 

the Garden of Eden set the stage for an explanation of Christ's 
atonement for that original transgression and for the sins of the entire 
human family. Also included was a recital of mankind's tendency to 
stray from the truth through apostasy and the need for apostolic 
authority to administer authoritative ordinances and teach true gos- 
pel principles. Participants were reminded that in addition to the 
Savior's redemptive gift they must be obedient to God's command- 
ments to obtain a celestial glory. Within the context of these gospel 
instructions, the initiates made covenants of personal virtue and 
benevolence and of commitment to the church. They agreed to 
devote their talents and means to spread the gospel, to strengthen 
the church, and to prepare the earth for the return of Jesus Christ. 1 

A primary purposes of the endowment was to teach initiates the 
true order of prayer, during which participants could pray with the 
confidence that their prayers would be answered. 

By receiving these ordinances on these two days in early May 
1842, this group of men set themselves apart from the rest of the 
church and formed the beginnings of the Quorum of the Anointed 
(also called the "Holy Order"), an elite body of men (and later 
women) possessing special power and status. Joseph Smith would 
initiate only one more ordinance before his death: the second 
anointing (or fullness of the priesthood ordinance) in 1843. 2 This 
article is an in-depth exploration of the individuals who made up the 
Quorum of the Anointed, the evolution of that quorum over time, 
particularly before Joseph Smith's death, and its purpose. From the 

^len M. Leonard, Nauvoo: A Place of Peace, A People of Promise (Salt 
Lake City: Deseret Book, 2002), 258-59. 

2 The function and purpose of the Quorum of the Anointed must be 
understood in the broader context of Joseph Smith's unfolding 
understanding of temple theology and accompanying ordinances. 
Although such a history lies outside the scope of this paper, it includes 
"power from on high" associated with ordination to the Melchizedek 
Priesthood in Kirtland, Ohio (1831), the construction and dedication of 
the Kirtland Temple (1833-36), the establishment of the School of the 
Prophets (1832-33), the ordinance of washing feet (1833), the development 
of the concept of sealing first referred to in the Book of Mormon, washings 
and anointings (1836), baptism for the dead (1840), the Nauvoo Temple 
(begun 1840), marriage for eternity (1841), the establishment of a Masonic 
Lodge in Nauvoo (1841), and the endowment ceremony (begun May 1842). 

Devery S. Anderson/The Anointed Quorum, 1842-45 


minutes kept of this quorum and references scattered throughout 
diaries and the reminisces of participants, it is possible to reconstruct 
its meeting schedule, typical procedure, and goals. Although fre- 
quently misunderstood as having a political purpose, this quorum 
instead seems to have served almost exclusively a spiritual purpose, 
uniting its participants in prayer and bringing them consolation and 
affirmation as they faced increasing tensions in Nauvoo after the 
deaths of Joseph and Hyrum. 

The nine men who were the first to experience the modern 
temple endowment were all members of Nauvoo's Masonic lodge. 
Three had been Masons for more than two decades. Hyrum Smith 
had apparently joined sometime before 1821; Heber C. Kimball 
became a member in 1823; and George Miller had been a Mason 
since 1819. James Adams had joined a lodge in Illinois after the 
Saints had entered the state. 3 Joseph's explanation of similarities 
between the two ceremonies, according to Kimball, was that "ma- 
sonary was taken from presthood but has become degenerated." 4 
Nineteenth-century accounts of the two rituals show that they con- 
tain a handful of nearly identical words and gestures. 5 For those 
believing in the restoration of all things, such parallels would have 
pointed to the ancient origins of Free Masonry. 6 Historian D. Mi- 

3 Andrew F. Ehat, "Joseph Smith's Introduction of Temple 
Ordinances and the 1844 Mormon Succession Question" (M.A. thesis, 
Brigham Young University, 1982), 4243. 

4 Heber C. Kimball, Letter to Parley and Mary Ann Pratt, 17 June 
1842, Archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day 
Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah (hereafter LDS Church Archives). "It may not 
be coincidental that the Holy Order consisted of nine men," observed 
Michael Homer, "'Similarity of Priesthood in Masonry': The Relationship 
Between Freemasonry and Mormonism," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon 
Thought 27 (Fall 1994): 38. "A Royal Arch Chapter, also known as the Holy 
Order of the Royal Arch, consists of at least nine Master Masons, and was 
the next logical step on Freemasonry for those who had advanced to the 
third degree." 

5 David John Buerger, The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon 
Temple Worship (San Francisco: Smith Research Associates, 1994), 53-55. 

^he view that Masonry originated during the construction of King 
Solomon's temple has been abandoned by modern scholars, and most 
Mormons today do not believe that the divinity of the endowment depends 


The Journal of Mormon History 

chael Quinn observes that, despite the similarities, "the Mormon 
endowment or Holy Order had the specific purpose of preparing 
the initiate for 'an ascent into heaven/ whereas Freemasonry did 
not." 7 Another factor, whose contribution to the text of the endow- 
ment was just as, if not more, important, was Joseph's study of the 
Bible, Book of Moses, and Book of Abraham. 

By 1840, Masonry had developed from a network of crafts 
guilds into a fraternity emphasizing personal study, self-improve- 
ment, and service. One of Masonry's important benefits from a Mor- 
mon standpoint was the pledge of protection that members swore 
to each other. 8 Joseph supported the idea of a Nauvoo lodge for the 
prestige it would bring to the city and church. Initial requests to the 

on the ancient origins of Masonry. According to Armand L. Mauss, 
"Culture, Charisma, and Change: Reflections on Mormon Temple 
Worship," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 20 (Winter 1987): 79-80, 
"That the Masonic ceremony itself changed and evolved even in recent 
centuries does not necessarily invalidate Joseph Smith's claim that he was 
restoring, by revelation, an even more ancient temple ceremony to which 
the Masonic one bore certain resemblances. On the other hand, neither 
does that claim constitute a declaration of the total independence of the 
Mormon temple ceremony from any external cultural influences, including 
Masonry. Frankly, I have some difficulty understanding why this should be 
such a big issue, except to those with a fairly limited understanding of how 
a prophet gets ideas. Since prophets and religions always arise and are 
nurtured within a given cultural context, itself evolving, it should not be 
difficult to understand why even the most original revelations have to be 
expressed in the idioms of the culture and biography of the revelator." 

7 D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Salt Lake 
City: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1994), 

8 For studies on Mormonism and Masonry, see Kenneth W. Godfrey, 
"Joseph Smith and the Masons, "Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 
64 (Spring 1971): 79-90; Reed C. Durham Jr., "Is There No Help for the 
Widow's Son?" typescript (privately circulated), 1974; Mervin B. Hogan, 
"Mormonism and Freemasonry: The Illinois Episode," in Little Masonic 
Library, edited by Carl H. Claudy, 5 vols. (Richmond, Va.: Macoy Publishing 
& Masonic Supply Co., 1977), 2:267-327; Robin L. Carr, Freemasonry in 
Nauvoo, 1839-1846 (Bloomington, 111.: Masonic Book Club and the Illinois 
Lodge of Research, 1989); and Michael W. Homer, '"Similarity of 
Priesthood in Masonry.'" 

Devery S. Anderson/The Anointed Quorum, 1842-45 


Grand Lodge in June 1841 for a Nauvoo dispensation were denied, 
yet four months later Abraham Jonas of the Columbus Lodge ap- 
proved the Saints' application. In December 1841, eighteen Masons 
met to organize a Nauvoo lodge at Hyrum Smith's home. Jonas 
officially installed the lodge and its officers on 15 March 1842. 
Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, his counselor in the First Presi- 
dency, were both initiated on this occasion in a room above Joseph's 
red brick store. More than five hundred Mormon men joined or 
were elevated within the first five months, causing Nauvoo Masons 
to outnumber all other Masons in the state combined. 9 

In addition to their Masonic membership, shared widely with 
other men in Nauvoo, these nine were among the highest ranking 
and most trusted leaders of the church. Hyrum was assistant church 
president; William Law was a member of the First Presidency; 
Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Willard Richards were apos- 
tles; William Marks was Nauvoo Stake president; Newell K. Whitney 
served as Presiding Bishop; James Adams and George Miller held 
positions of local leadership. 

The Anointed Quorum met on at least two subsequent occa- 
sions (perhaps as many as four) before the end of 1842. Vinson 
Knight apparently became the tenth man to be initiated that year, 
although this is not certain. 10 Those who left accounts of these meet- 
ings record that they often received instruction, discussed items of 
business and current interest, and engaged in prayer. For example, 
on 26 and 28 June 1842, meetings focused on "the situation of the 
pine country & Lumbering business" where men were logging Wis- 
consin timber for the temple. On each occasion, quorum members 
"united in solemn prayer," asking, for example, for aid in dealing 
with legal matters facing the Church, and for protection of a quorum 

Corner, "'Similarity of Priesthood in Masonry,'" 28-29. 

10 John C. Bennett, A History of the Saints; or, An Expose of foe Smith 
and Mormonism (Boston: Leland & Whiting, 1842), 247-48. Bennett cites a 
letter from George W. Robinson dated 8 August 1842 which claims that 
Vinson Knight had been endowed. Because Knight had died a week earlier 
on 31 July 1842, his initiation, if Bennett is correct, must have occurred 
between May 6 and the end of July. Because he was bishop of Nauvoo's 
Lower Ward and an early polygamist, he is included in the list of members 
in this essay. 


The Journal of Mormon Histoiy 

member who was to leave the next day to bring his family to Nau- 
voo. 11 

Following meetings in July (and possibly September), the 
Anointed Quorum did not meet again until May 1843. The gap 
between meetings probably resulted from the John C. Bennett crisis 
that placed most of the Church's business, including the temple 
construction, on hold. Bennett, who had moved to Nauvoo in Sep- 
tember 1840, quickly rose to prominence in the new community. 
Within five months he was mayor of Nauvoo, chancellor of the Uni- 
versity of Nauvoo, and major general of the Nauvoo Legion. Two 
months later, he was sustained as acting counselor to Joseph Smith. 
Church leaders soon learned, however, that Bennett had been se- 
cretly practicing his own version of plural marriage without Joseph's 
authorization. (Joseph had begun revealing his doctrine of plural 
wives to other Church leaders, including members of the Quorum 
of the Twelve Apostles in mid- to late-1841.) Joseph branded Ben- 
nett's activities as adulterous, and Bennett withdrew from the 
Church shortly after the organization of the Anointed Quorum in 
May 1842. 

During the fall of 1842, Bennett published a book-length ex- 
pose of Joseph Smith, the Saints, plural marriage, and the Anointed 
Quorum. Although many of Bennett's claims were based on hearsay, 
others reflected first-hand knowledge, and the situation posed a 
dilemma for Joseph, who wanted to keep knowledge of both plural 
marriage and the Anointed Quorum private. Public discussion over 
Bennett's charges of "spiritual wifery" forced Joseph to denounce 
Bennett's allegations publicly while privately remaining true to the 
doctrines that he had been teaching and living. 12 

1 William Clayton, Diary, Kept for Joseph Smith, in "Book of the 
Law of the Lord," 26, 28 June 1842, in The Papers of Joseph Smith, Volume 2: 
Journal, 1832-1842, edited by Dean C. Jessee (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 
1992), 393-94. 

12 George D. Smith, "Nauvoo Roots of Polygamy, 1841-1846: A 
Preliminary Demographic Report," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 
27 (Spring 1994): 1-72; Todd M. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural 
Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997); Richard S. Van 
Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 
1986), and Kathryn M. Daynes, More Wives Than One: Transformation of the 
Mormon Marriage System, 1840-1910 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 

Devery S. Anderson/The Anointed Quorum, 1842-45 


The situation intensified when Hyrum Smith, William Law, and 
William Marks, all members of the Anointed Quorum who were 
unaware of Joseph's plural marriages, tried to rid the Church of such 
teachings. Joseph's private secretary, William Clayton, recorded 23 
May 1843: "Conversed with H[eber] C. K[imball concerning a plot 
that is being laid to entrap the brethren of the secret priesthood by 
Brother H[yrum] and others." 13 As Brigham Young later related, 
apparently within a day or two, Hyrum approached him: "I have a 
question to ask you," Hyrum began. "You and the twelve know some 
things that I do not know. I can understand this by the motions, and 
talk, and doings of Joseph, and I know there is something or other, 
which I do not understand, that is revealed to the Twelve. Is this so?" 
Young responded: "I do not know any thing about what you know, 
but I know what I know." Hyrum continued: "I have mistrusted for 
a long time that Joseph has received a revelation that a man should 
have more than one wife, and he has hinted as much to me, but I 
would not bear it. ... I am convinced that there is something that 
has not been told me." Brigham then responded: 

[BJrother Hyrum, I will tell you about this thing which you do not 
know if you will sware with an uplifted hand, before God, that you 
will never say another word against Joseph and his doings, and the 
doctrines he is preaching to the people. He replied, "I will do it with 
all my heart;" and he stood upon his feet, saying, "I want to know the 
truth, and to be saved." And he made a covenant there, never again 
to bring forward one argument or use any influence against Joseph's 
doings. Joseph had many wives sealed to him. I told Hyrum the whole 
story, and he bowed to it and wept like a child, and said, "God be 
praised." He went to Joseph and told him what he had learned, and 
renewed his covenant with Joseph, and they went heart and hand 
together while they lived, and they were together when they died, and 
they are together now defending Israel. 14 

Hyrum's conversion to plural marriage and the renewed inti- 


13 George D. Smith, ed., An Intimate Chronicle: The Diaries of William 
Clayton (Salt Lake City: Signature Books in association with Smith Research 
Associates, 1991), 105. 

i4 Brigham Young, quoted in Ehat, "Joseph Smith's Introduction of 
Temple Ordinances," 57-59. 


The Journal of Mormon History 

macy of the two brothers may have prompted the meeting of the 
Anointed Quorum on 26 May 1843, the first after at least eight 
months. The interval between William Clayton's diary entry, 
Hyrum's conversation with Brigham, and the quorum's meeting was 
only three days. William recorded in his diary on 26 May that 
"Hyrum received the doctrine of priesthood," meaning that he ac- 
cepted plural marriage. 15 

Andrew Ehat suggests that the discussion of Hyrum's conver- 
sion to plural marriage did not occur in this meeting of the Anointed 
Quorum because William Law, who never accepted plural marriage, 
was present: "According to his testimony, William Law never knew 
from Joseph Smith that plural marriage was a practice of the Church 
until D&C 132 was recorded. This was seven weeks after the 26 May 
meeting." 16 Joseph may have broached the topic indirectly, theoreti- 
cally, or not at all. Michael Quinn, another historian of the Anointed 
Quorum, believes that Hyrum's conversion prompted Joseph at the 
26 May meeting to reendow everyone who had been endowed the 
previous year. William Marks and George Miller were the only mem- 
bers of the Anointed Quorum absent from this meeting. Whether 
Joseph instructed quorum members in plural marriage at this time, 
Hyrum's acceptance revitalized the quorum and Joseph's plans for 
it. One result, according to Quinn, was that Joseph decided two 
months later to designate Hyrum his successor. After the 26 May 
meeting, according to Quinn, "Events in the Quorum of Anointed 
and other groups associated with the secret practices of Nauvoo were 
often more crucial than events occurring within open, public fo- 
rums." 17 

On this occasion, the quorum also renewed the practice of 
prayer circles, a ritual which became increasingly important in quo- 
rum meetings and remains an important part of LDS temple wor- 
ship. These ritual prayers imparted to members the "endowment of 
power" they believed they possessed. 18 Diary entries mentioning, for 
example, "prayer meeting at j[oseph Smith]. 's old house" 19 usually 
refer to meetings of the Anointed Quorum. 

15 Smith, Intimate Chronicle, 106. 

16 Ehat, "Joseph Smith's Introduction of Temple Ordinances," 62. 
17 Quinn, Origins of Power, 54-55. 

18 D. Michael Quinn, "Latter-day Saint Prayer Circles," BYU Studies 
19 (Fall 1978): 79-105. 

Devery S. Anderson/The Anointed Quorum, 1842-45 


On 28 May, two days after this crucial meeting, Joseph Smith 
introduced another ceremony to the Anointed Quorum: marriage 
sealings for eternity. 20 On 28 May, Joseph Smith and James Adams 
were sealed to their spouses, Emma Hale Smith and Harriet Denton 
Adams. This was an important moment for the Smiths, as Emma 
Smith, like Hyrum, had originally opposed her husband's teachings 
on plural marriage (and would again), yet had reconciled herself to 
the doctrine and practice, for "in the background of Joseph's intro- 
duction of the temple ordinances was the principle of plural mar- 
riage." 21 The next day, Hyrum, Brigham, and Willard Richards were 
all sealed to their legal wives. 22 

Four months later, on 28 September, the first women were 
initiated into the quorum, beginning with Emma, who received her 
endowment on or just before that date. The previous year, Joseph 
had organized the women's Relief Society and, using Masonic ter- 
minology, had instructed the women in his vision of their organiza- 
tion. "Let this Presidency serve as a constitution" he said, proposing 
"that the society go into a close examination of every candidate. . . . 

19 Willard Richards, Diary, 12 November 1843, LDS Church Archives. 

Joseph had actually begun marriage sealings for eternity in April 
1841 when he married his first documented plural wife, Louisa Beaman. 

21 Ehat, "Joseph Smith's Introduction of Temple Ordinances," 74-75. 
He adds: "Joseph had persuaded Emma to accept plural marriage in part 
by assuring her she could choose his wives. Shortly before her 28 May 
sealing, she designated Emily and Eliza Partridge and Sarah and Maria 
Lawrence and witnessed their weddings to her husband. She did not know 
that Joseph had already married at least sixteen women, including the 
Partridge sisters, two months earlier. By July 1843 when Joseph dictated 
the revelation sanctioning polygamy (D&C 132), Emma had changed her 
mind. Hyrum Smith read it her, after which he reported to Joseph: 'I have 
never received a more severe talking to in my life. Emma is very bitter and 
full of resentment and anger.'" Quoted in Linda King Newell and Valeen 
Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith (Garden City, N.Y.: 
Doubleday, 1984, 142-52. 

2 ~Scott H. Faulring, ed., An American Prophet's Record: The Diaries and 
Journals of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books in association with 
Smith Research Associates, 1986), 381. Hyrum Smith and Adams were not 
polygamists at this point; Young and Richards were. George Smith, 
"Nauvoo Roots," 37-69. 


The Journal of Mormon History 

that the Society should grow up by degrees" He added that God 
would "make of this Society a kingdom of priests as in Enoch's day." 2 ^ 

At the Anointed Quorum's meeting on 28 September 1843, 
Joseph "was by common consent and unanimous voice chosen Presi- 
dent of the quorum and anointed and ord[ained] to the highest and 
holiest order of the priesthood (and companion [i.e., Emma])." 24 
This ordinance, called the "fullness of the priesthood" or second 
anointing, fulfilled the promise of the first anointing. 25 According 
to Glen M. Leonard, this "crowning ordinance" was "a promise of 
kingly powers and of endless lives. It was the confirmation of prom- 
ises that worthy men could become kings and priests and that 
women could become queens and priestesses in the eternal 
worlds." 26 "For any person to have the fullness of that priesthood," 
Brigham Young explained, "he must be a king and priest. A person 
may have a portion of that priesthood, the same as governors or 
judges of England have power from the king to transact business; 
but that does not make them kings of England. A person may be 
anointed king and priest long before he receives his kingdom." 27 
Those who receive their second anointings, according to twentieth- 
century Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, "receive the more sure word 
of prophecy, which means that the Lord seals their exaltation upon 
them while they are yet in this life. . . . [T]heir exaltation is assured." 28 
During the ordinance, explains historian Lyndon W. Cook, a hus- 
band is "ordained a priest and anointed a king unto God," while 

23 Minutes of the Nauvoo Female Relief Society, 17 March 1842, in 
Buerger, Mysteries of Godliness, 51; emphasis his. These words were also 
common Masonic terms and prompted Bennett to accuse Joseph of 
establishing a lodge of female Masonry. Quinn, "Latter-day Saint Prayer 
Circles," 85-86. 

24 Faulring, An American Prophet's Record, 416. 

25 DavidJohn Buerger, "'The Fulness of the Priesthood': The Second 
Anointing in Latter-day Saint Theology and Practice," Dialogue: A Journal 
of Mormon Thought 16 (Spring 1983): 10-44. 

26 Leonard, Nauvoo, 260-61. 

27 Joseph Smith Jr. et al., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day 
Saints, edited by B. H. Roberts (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 6 vols, 
published 1902-12, Vol. 7 published 1932, 1980 printing), 5:527. 

28 Bruce R McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. (Salt Lake City: 
Bookcraft, 1966), 109-10. 

Devery S. Anderson/The Anointed Quorum, 1842-45 


wives are "anointed priestesses and queens unto their husband." 
"These ordinances," Ehat adds, 

depending on the person's ecclesiastical position, made the recipient 
a "king and priest," "in," "in and over," or (as only in Joseph Smith's 
case) "over" the Church. Moreover, the recipient had sealed upon 
him the power to bind and loose on earth as Joseph explained in his 
definition of the fulness of the priesthood. Another blessing, growing 
out of the promise of the sealing power was the specific blessing that 
whatever thing was desired it would not be withheld when sought for 
in diligent prayer. 30 

"There is no exaltation in the kingdom of God," Joseph Fielding 
Smith, writing as Church Historian and apostle, "without the ful- 
ness of priesthood." 31 

Throughout the remainder of 1843, the quorum continued to 
expand, with eternal sealings and second anointings following initia- 
tion as members. Such ordinances consumed a significant portion 
of the time, but the quorum also addressed important issues con- 
fronting the Church. For example, on 12 November 1843, after 
Alpheus and Lois Cutler received their second anointing, "I [Joseph 
Smith] spoke of a petition to Congress, my letter to [James Ar- 
lington] Bennett, and intention to write a proclamation to the kings 
of the earth." On 3 December with "all present except Hyrum and 
his wife," William Wine Phelps read Joseph's appeal to the Green 
Mountain Boys of Vermont to require Missouri to redress its wrongs 
against the Saints. Joseph's written appeal "was dedicated by prayer 
after all had spoken upon it." 32 As Quinn points out, these meetings 
during November and December 1843 were the first time in Church 
history that men and women together discussed theocratic issues. 
Other such meetings would follow. 33 

However, the Anointed Quorum was not an administrative or 
legislative body. Its authority stemmed from their anointings and 

29 Lyndon W. Cook, Joseph C. Kingsbury: A Biography (Provo, Utah: 
Grandin Book, 1985), 94. 

30 Ehat, "Joseph Smith's Introduction of Temple Ordinances," 95-96. 

31 In Bruce R. McConkie, comp., Doctrines of Salvation: Sermons and 
Writings of Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1956), 3:132. 

32 Faulring, An American Prophet's Record, 429-30; emphasis mine. 

33 Quinn, Origins of Power, 116. 


The Journal of Mormon History 

endowments, both of which were strictly spiritual in nature. They 
discussed the appeal to the Green Mountain Boys, then made it a 
matter of prayer. The quorum did vote on matters that affected the 
group, however. For example, when William Law rejected plural 
marriage and stopped attending quorum meetings, the group voted 
formally to expel him in early 1844. Bathsheba Bigler Smith, a mem- 
ber of the quorum and wife of George A. Smith, who attended this 
meeting, said that "each one present vot[ed] yes or no in his [or her] 
turn." 34 Quinn summarizes: "All available evidence shows that the 
Holy Order's only administrative function pertained to . . . the en- 
dowment ordinances from 1843 to 1845," and stresses that "even 
when male members of the Anointed Quorum conducted adminis- 
trative business, they sometimes made a distinct separation between 
meeting in their Church capacity to discuss administrative matters 
and meeting as the Quorum of Anointed to have a prayer circle 
about the matters discussed." 35 

By the end of 1843, the quorum numbered at least thirty-eight 
individuals and had met at least thirty-two times, mostly to endow 
new members, advance others in the ordinances, and engage in the 
true order of prayer. Eighteen women had been initiated into the 
quorum and been endowed. Fifteen members had received the sec- 
ond anointing while as many as seventeen couples had been sealed 
for eternity. 

As the quorum grew, it is important to note the family relation- 
ships between Joseph and other quorum members (see Table 1). 
Although the quorum included a number of Joseph's biological kin 
and relatives by marriage, relationships established by his and other 
plural unions also broadened the familial connections. Eventually, 
some thirty-nine initiates (44 percent of all quorum members) 
shared a family connection to Joseph, thus strengthening existing 
bonds of loyalty and increasing the trust Joseph hoped to foster and 
maintain within the group. 

The year 1844 proved to be a difficult, yet prosperous twelve 

34 Bathsheba W. Smith, Testimony, 16 March 1892, in Complainant's 
Abstract of Pleading and Evidence, In the Circuit Court of the United States, 
Western District of Missouri, Western Division at Kansas City. The Reorganized 
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Complainants vs. The Church of Christ 
at Independence, Missouri (Lamoni, la: Herald Publishing House, 1893), 360. 

35 Quinn, "Latter-day Saint Prayer Circles," 90-91. 

Devery S. Anderson/The Anointed Quorum, 1842-45 


Table 1 

Family Connections to Joseph Smith of Quorum Members, 


Quorum Member Family Connect ion to Joseph Smith 

Lucy Mack Smith 

Hyrum Smith 

Mary Fielding 

(wife of Hyrum Smith) 

Mercy Fielding Thompson 

(sister of Mary Fielding Smith and 

Joseph Fielding 

(Mary and Mercy's brother) 

Hannah G. Fielding 

(wife of Joseph Fielding) 

Samuel H. Smith 

William Smith 

John Smith 

(brother of Joseph Smith Sr.) 

Clarissa Lyman Smith 
(wife of John Smith) 

George A. Smith 

(son of John and Clarissa Smith) 

Bathsheba Bigler Smith 

(wife of George A. Smith) 

Emma Hale Smith 

Louisa Beaman/Beman 

Mary Adeline Beaman/Beman Noble 
(sister of Louisa Beaman) 

Joseph Bates Noble 

(husband of Mary Beaman) 

Olive Grey Frost 

Mary Ann Frost Pratt 

(sister of Olive Frost) 

Parley Pratt 

(husband of Mary Ann Frost) 


sister-in-law by marriage 
Hyrum Smith's plural wife) 

brother-in-law by marriage 

sister-in-law by marriage 


aunt by marriage 
first cousin 

cousin-in-law by marriage 

first wife 
plural wife 

brother-in-law by marriage 

plural wife 

brother-in-law by marriage 


The Journal of Mormon History 

Quorum Member 

Family Connection to Joseph Smith 

Marinda Nancy Johnson Hyde 

Orson Hyde 

(husband of Marinda Nancy Johnson) 

Helen Mar Kimball 

Heber C. Kimball 

(father of Helen Mar Kimball) 

Vilate Murray Kimball 

(mother of Helen Mar Kimball) 

Fanny Murray Young 

VUate Murray Kimball 

(stepmother of Fanny Young) 

Heber C. Kimball 

(stepfather of Fanny Young) 

Rhoda Richards 

Levi Richards 

(brother of Rhoda Richards) 

Willard Richards 

(brother of Rhoda Richards) 

Jennetta Richards Richards 

(wife of Willard Richards) 

Sarah Ann Whitney 

Joseph C. Kingsbury 

(civil husband of Sarah Ann Whitney; and 

Newel K. Whitney 

(father of Sarah Ann Whitney) 

Elizabeth Ann Whitney 

(mother of Sarah Ann Whitney) 

Agnes M. Coolbrith 

Elizabeth Davis Durfee 

Zina D. H.Jacobs 

Mary E. Rollins Lightner 

Sylvia Porter Sessions 

Eliza Roxcy Snow 

plural wife 

plural wife 


plural wife 


plural wife 


sister-in-law by marriage 

plural wife 

son-in-law; wife, Caroline Whitney 



plural wife 
plural wife 
plural wife 
plural wife 
plural wife 
plural wife 

Devery S. Anderson/The Anointed Quorum, 1842-45 


months for the quorum. Members were added by vote. In late Janu- 
ary, for example, William Clayton recorded: "Brother [Reynolds] 
Cahoon came to my house to say that a vote had been taken on my 
being admitted into the quorum and I was accepted." 36 It is unknown 
if recommendations for admission came solely from Joseph or also 
from other quorum members. However, each member had a say in 
the matter and admissions received unanimous votes. In her remi- 
niscence of the decision to drop Law, Bathsheba Smith also recalled: 
"One member hesitated to vote, which called forth earnest remarks 
from the Prophet Joseph. He showed clearly that it would be doing 
a serious wrong to retain him longer. After his explanation the vote 
was unanimous." 37 

Although the quorum met primarily for prayer and ordinance 
work, meetings also included instruction on scripture and doctrine. 
For example, on 28 January 1844, in addition to the usual prayer 
circle, Joseph spoke on the coming of Elijah as recorded in Malachi 
4. The following week, he expounded on the scriptural teaching of 
the 144,000 in the book of Revelation. At an earlier meeting that 
month, John Taylor had addressed the quorum and "made some 
appropriate remarks unto edifycation." 38 The quorum met more 
than twenty times in January and February 1844, averaging at least 
twice and often three times a week. 

After William Law's expulsion from the Anointed Quorum, he 
became estranged from Joseph and was excommunicated three 
months later on 18 April 1844, along with his wife and brother. 
Three days later, he helped to found the Reformed Mormon Church 
and for the next two months worked to expose Joseph as a "fallen" 
prophet. Meetings of the Anointed Quorum became less frequent 
as Church leaders dealt with these latest challenges: only four times 
in March, once in April, and six times from May until Joseph's and 
Hyrum's deaths in late June. Meetings also dealt less with spiritual 
matters and more on the crisis with dissidents and reformers. For 
example, William Clayton recorded on 28 April: "We united [in 
prayer] for President Joseph the Church, the presidency contests the 

36 Smith, Intimate Chronicle, 125. 
37 Bathsheba Smith, Testimony, 360. 

38 Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodmffs Journal, 1833-1898, 
typescript, edited by Scott G. Kenny, 9 vols. (Midvale, Utah: Signature 
Books, 1983-85): 2:344, 348, 346. 


The Journal of Mormon History 

Lawsuits. The apostates, the sick &c. &c." Still, he added, "We had 
a good time." 39 The friendship, trust, and unity experienced within 
the quorum was a welcome respite from the turmoil in the commu- 
nity at large. 

On 7june 1844, Law and others published the first (and only) 
issue of the Nauvoo Expositor, which detailed Joseph's plural marriage 
teachings and advocated repeal of Nauvoo's city charter. Joseph, as 
mayor of Nauvoo, and the city council, declared the Expositor a. nui- 
sance and ordered its destruction. Joseph was charged with inciting 
a riot and other treasonous activities. While awaiting trial in 
Carthage Jail, he and Hyrum were killed by a mob on 27 June. 

Their deaths placed in a special category those who had already 
joined the Anointed Quorum compared to those initiated during 
the next year and a half, before the completion of the Nauvoo Tem- 
ple. What role did plural marriage play in membership? Although 
there was a high correlation, not all in the Anointed Quorum were 
polygamists. (See Table 2.) Of the thirty-seven men and twenty-nine 
women (sixty-six total) initiated during Joseph's lifetime, sixteen 
men and twenty women (54.5 percent of all members) were polyga- 
mists either before or after initiation. These sixteen men repre- 
sented 43 percent of male initiates (24 percent of all members); the 
twenty women represented 69 percent of female initiates (30 percent 
of all members). Thus, practicing plural marriage was not required 
for admission into the quorum although acceptance of the doctrine 
certainly was. 40 

The correspondence between membership in the Anointed 
Quorum and those who received their second anointings was also 
not complete. Of the men and women initiated during Joseph's 
lifetime, nineteen men and seventeen women (56 percent of all in- 
itiates) received their second anointing prior to Joseph's death. (See 
Table 3.) These nineteen men represented 51 percent of male mem- 
bers (29 percent of all members), the seventeen women 59 percent 
of female members (26 percent of all members). Of the nineteen 
husbands who received the second anointing during Joseph's life- 
time, eleven (58 percent) were polygamists, eight (42 percent) mo- 
nogamists. No plural wife received the ordinance until after Joseph's 

39 Smith, Intimate Chronicle, 131. 

40 See the list of Nauvoo polygamists in George D. Smith, "Nauvoo 
Roots," 37-69. 

Devery S. Anderson/The Anointed Quorum, 1842-45 


Table 2 

Plural Marriage among Quorum Members 
during Joseph Smith's Lifetime 

/. Plural Husbands and Wives Initiated During Joseph Smith 's Lifetime 



James Adams 
Reynolds Cahoon 
William Clayton 
Orson Hyde 

Heber C Kimball 
Vinson Knight 

Isaac Morley 
Parley Pratt 
Willard Richards 
Hyrum Smith 

John Smith 
Joseph Smith 

William Smith 
John Taylor 
Lyman Wight 

Harriet Denton Adams, Roxena Repshire* 

Thirza Stiles Cahoon, Lucina Roberts* 

Ruth Moon Clayton, Margaret Moon 

Marin da Nancy Johnson Hyde, Martha 
Rebecca Browett,* Mary Ann Price* 

Vilate Murray Kimball, Sarah Peak Noon* 

Martha McBride Knight,* 

Philinda Clark Eldrcdge Myrick* 

Lucy Gunn Morley, Hannah Blakeslee Finch Merriam* 

Mary Ann Frost Pratt, Elizabeth Brotherton* 

Jennctta Richards Richards, Sarah LongstrotJh* 

Mary Fielding Smith, Mercy R. Fielding- 
Thompson, Catherine Phillips* 

Clarissa Lyman Smith, Mary Aikens,* Julia Ellis Hills* 

Emma Hale Smith, Agnes M. Coolbrith, Elizabeth 
Davis Durfee, Marinda Nancy Johnson 
Hyde, Fanny Young Murray, Louisa 
Be[a]man,* Prescindia L. H. Buell,* Sarah 
Kinsley Cleveland,* Hannah Ells,* Olive 
Grey Frost,* Desdemona Fullmer,* Elvira 
Annie Cowles Holmes,* Zina D. H.Jacobs,* 
Almera Woodward Johnson,* Helen Mar 
Kimball,* Martha McBride Knight,* Maria 
Lawrence,* Sarah Lawrence,* Mary E. Rol- 
lins Lightner,* Melissa Lott,* Sarah Scott 
Mulholland,* Emily Dow Partridge,* Eliza 
Maria Partridge,* Rhoda Richards,* Ruth 
Vose Savers,* Patty Bartlett Sessions,* Sylvia 
Porter Sessions,* Delcena Johnson Sher- 
man,* Eliza Roxcy Snow,* Lucy Walker,* 
Sarah Ann Whitney,* Nancy Maria[h] Win- 
chester,* Flora Ann Woodworth,* 

Caroline Amanda Grant Smith,* Mary Ann 
Covington Sheffield,* Mary Jones* 

Leonora Cannon Taylor, Elizabeth Kaighan,* 
Jane Ballantyne* 

Harriet Benton,* Jane Margaret Ballantyne?,* 


The Journal of Mormon History 

II Known Plural Hvsbands Not Initiated in the Anointed Quorum During 
Joseph Smith 's Lifetime 

John E. Page 
Ebenezer Richardson 
William Sagers 
Erastus Snow 
Theodore Turley 
Edwin D. Woolley 
Lorenzo Dow Young 

George F. Adams 
Ezra T. Benson 
Howard Egan 
William Felshaw 
William D. Huntington 
Joseph A. Relting 
Joseph Bates Noble 

*Not a member of the Anointed Quorum during Joseph Smith's lifetime. 

Table 3 

The Second Anointing and Plural Marriage 
among Quorum Members during Joseph Smith's Lifetime 

Members Who Received Second Anointing Marital Status 



at the Time 

Reynolds Cahoon 

Thirza Stiles Cahoon 


Alpheus Cuder 

Lois Lathrop Cutler 


Orson Hyde 

[Anointed without wife] 


Heber C. Kimball 

Vilate Murray Kimball 


Cornelius Lott 

Permelia Darrow Lott 


William Marks 

Rosannah Robinson Marks 


Isaac Morley 

Lucy Gunn Morley 


William W. Phelps 

Sally Waterman Phelps 


Orson Pratt 

[Anointed without wife] 


Parley P. Pratt 

[Anointed without wife] 


Willard Richards 

Jennetta Richards Richards 


George A. Smith 

Bathsheba Bigler Smith 


Hyrum Smith 

Mary Fielding Smith 


John Smith 

Clarissa Lyman Smith 


Joseph Smith 

Emma Hale Smith 


[Husband deceased] 

Lucy Mack Smith 


John Taylor 

Leonora Cannon Taylor 


Newel R. Whitney 

Elizabeth Ann Smith Whitney 


Wilford Woodruff 

Phoebe Carter Woodruff 


Brigham Young 

Mary Ann Angell Young 


Devery S. Anderson/The Anointed Quorum, 1842-45 


death, leading Quinn to conclude that, during this period, "polyg- 
amy was only an appendage 'to the highest order of the priesthood' 
[i.e., the fullness of the priesthood] established on 28 September 
1843. " 41 Had Joseph lived, requirements for initiation into the quo- 
rum and the ordinances themselves would probably have evolved 
further, especially considering the changes that had taken place in 
defining and bestowing the endowment between 1831 and 1843. 

During the succession crisis that followed Joseph's death, some 
of the drama played out in the Anointed Quorum. As Quinn points 
out, during the five weeks after Joseph's martyrdom, "the primary 
format for discussing succession was at meetings of the Quorum of 
Anointed. Three-fourths of the apostles and other leaders were 
weeks away from Nauvoo. Unlike all other quorums, the Quorum 
of Anointed had no requirement that a majority be present to con- 
duct business." 42 However, quorum members were divided on ap- 
pointing a trustee for the Church; some wanted to act immediately, 
while others, including Willard Richards, wanted to await the apos- 
tles' return. 43 The second group prevailed. The quorum met six 
times between 27 June and 8 August: on 30 June 4, 7, 12, 14, and 24 


Following the arrival in Nauvoo of a majority of apostles, Sid- 
ney Rigdon, Joseph's first counselor, presented the case for his ap- 
pointment as "guardian" of the Church at a public meeting on 8 
August. However, most Church members favored the leadership of 
the Quorum of the Twelve, with Brigham Young as its president. At 
Rigdon's excommunication the next month, Apostle Orson Hyde 
denounced Rigdon's revelations and observed that the dilemma 
could have been resolved elsewhere: "There is a quorum organized 
where revelations can be tested." Although Hyde did not identify 
the Anointed Quorum by name, he was clearly thinking of its prayer 
circles. 44 The day after Rigdon's failed bid, Young assembled the 
Anointed Quorum and its members voted to stop admitting new 
initiates "till times would admit." 45 

The meetings of the Anointed Quorum were also curtailed. In 

41 Quinn, "Latter-day Saint Prayer Circles," 88. 
42 Quinn, Origins of Power, 149. 
43 Ibid., 150. 
^Ibid., 171. 

45 WiUard Richards, Diary, 9 August 1844. 


The Journal of Mormon History 

September, there were three meetings, two in October, none in 
November, and one in December. At that meeting on 22 December, 
quorum members voted to admit three women, although they actu- 
ally entered the quorum later. However, in 1845, Young presided 
over 146 meetings of the quorum, usually between five and ten times 
a month; but from 2 October to 1 1 December, they met daily. They 
also added more than twenty to the quorum. In the process, accord- 
ing to Quinn, Young helped "make polygamy an institution instead 
of furtive practice" by increasing the percentage of plural wives 
within the quorum from 7.6 percent during Joseph's lifetime to 57.1 
percent. 46 Young also resumed the administration of second anoint- 
ings in 1845. 

In addition to admitting or advancing members, the quorum 
regularly held prayer circles in its meetings. They prayed for deliv- 
erance from their enemies, for example, asking that Thomas Sharp, 
editor of the anti-Mormon Warsaw Signal and accused murderer of 
Joseph Smith, "be visited with judgements." They also implored di- 
vine retribution on troublemakers inside the Church, such as pre- 
siding patriarch William Smith (Joseph's younger brother), who "is 
endeavoring to ride the Twelve down." 47 At a time when the Saints 
were struggling to complete their temple and simultaneously dealing 
with internal and external strife, many of the quorum's meetings 
lasted late into the night. On 18 May 1845, for example, the quorum 
was in session until 2:00 A.M.; on May 22, the meeting ended at 
midnight; on 29 May, quorum members did not return home until 
1:30 A.M. It is obvious from the minutes that the power they collec- 
tively invoked in the true order of prayer motivated them to unite 
together until they could open the temple, endow the Saints, and 
evacuate Nauvoo. 

The Anointed Quorum met for the first time in the Nauvoo 
Temple on 7 December 1845. Three days later, they launched the 
monumental process of endowing the general adult membership of 
the Church. Although the temple was unfinished, the attic level was 
completed, allowing ordinances to be performed for over five thou- 
sand men and women until 6 February 1846. 

While the Nauvoo era of LDS history is remembered, in part, 
for development associated with the temple, the Anointed Quorum 

46 Quinn, Origins of Power, 176. 
47 Smith, Intimate Chronicle, 167. 

Devery S. Anderson/The Anointed Quorum, 1842-45 


set the stage for those teachings. It was the Anointed Quorum that 
met together for three and a half years, participating in sacred rites 
and receiving instruction from Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and 
other leading Church officials. Any study of Nauvoo must treat the 
Anointed Quorum as Joseph's contribution to temple-related theol- 
ogy. The quorum should be recognized for its comforting and in- 
vigorating spiritual power, acting as a separate body from those 
governing the Church administratively.